REVIEW: THE SIMPSONS – SEASON 19-22

 

CAST

Dan Castellaneta (Super 8)
Julie Kavner  (Dr. Dolittle)
Yeardley Smith (Dead Like Me)
Nancy Cartwright (Kim Possible)
Hank Azaria (The Smurfs)
Harry Shearer (This Is Spinal Tap)
Pamela Hayden (Recess)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Russi Taylor (Babe)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Stephen Colbert (The Colbert Report)
Lionel Richie (Pariah)
Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids)
Maggie Roswell (Pretty In Pink)
Matt Dillon (Crash)
Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)
Ted Nugent (Private Parts)
Maurice LaMarche (Futurama)
Jack Black (King Kong)
Kelsey Grammer (X-men: The Last Stand)
John Mahoney (Frasier)
David Hyde Pierce (Hellboy)
Jon Stewart (The Faculty)
‘Weird Al’ Yankovic (Spy Hard)
Kurt Loder (Book of Shadows)
Topher Grace (That 70s Show)
Beverly D’Angelo (American History X)
Zooey Deschanel (New Girl)
John C. Reilly (Step Brothers)
Glenn Close (Guardians of The Galaxy Vol 2)
Lance Armstrong (The Armstrong Lie)
Drew Carey (Jack and Jill)
Robert Forster (Heroes)
Denis Leary (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Scott Thompson (Hannibal)
Marcia Wallace (Full House)
Shohreh Aghdashloo (The Promise)
Emily Blunt (The Girl On the Train)
Ed Begley Jr. (Veronica Mars)
Colm Meaney (Get Him To The Greek)
Anne Hathaway (The Dark Knight Rises)
Ellen Page (Juno)
Jodie Foster (The Silence of The Lambs)
Seth Rogen (Knocked Up)
Jonah Hill (21 Jump Street)
Neve Campbell (Scream)
Kim Cattrall (Big Trouble In Little China)
Eartha Kitt (60s Batman)
Sarah Silverman (School of Rock)
Angela Bassett (Alias)
Sacha Baron Cohen (Bruno)
Joe Mantegna (Criminal Minds)
Kevin Michael Richardson (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Jane Kaczmarek (Pleasentville)
Eddie Izzard (Hannibal)
Simon Cowell (Scary Movie 3)
Ellen DeGeneres (EDtv)
Jermaine Clement (Legion)
Stephen Hawkings (The Big Bang Theory)
Lea Michele (Scream Queens)
Corey Monteith (Glee)
Amber Riley (The Wiz Live)
Hugh Laurie (Tomorrowland)
Daniel Radcliffe (Horns)
Rachel Weisz (Runawey Jury)
Gregg Berger (Transformers)
Katy Perry (The Smurfs)
Martha Stewart (2 Broke Girls)
Jon Hamm (Mad M
Alyson Hannigan (How I Met Your Mother)
Kristen Wiig (Paul)
Garry Marshall (Life After Beth)
Halle Berry (X-Men)
J.B. Smoove (Date Night)
Ricky Gervais (Ghost Town)
Russell Brand (Get Him To the Greek)
Tommy Chong (Evil Bong)
Cheech Marin (Machete)
Paul Rudd (Ant-Man)
Martin Landau (Ed Wood)
Ricky Jay (Flashforward)
Penn & Teller (Sabrina: TTW)
Kristen Schaal (Bob’s Burgers)

The season has some more great episodes, that shows the Simpsons is still a huge juggernaut of a show.

SEASON 19 HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE

19.1) HE LOVES TO FLY AND HE D’OHS

After Homer saves Mr. Burns from drowning, Mr. Burns rewards him with a dinner and a flight on his corporate jet, making Homer disappointed that he will never be rich or successful enough to enjoy the high life.19.2) THE HOMER OF SEVILLE

A freak accident turns Homer into an opera singer (which can only be achieved if he lies down) and he becomes the toast of Springfield’s cultural elite — and the target of a crazed, motorcycle-riding female fan who blackmails him into becoming his manager.19.3) MIDNIGHT TOWBOY

Homer befriends a tow-truck driver named Louie, who shows Homer what it is like to tow vehicles for a living. Meanwhile, Marge puts Maggie in a special school to help babies become independent, but when the lessons work too well, Marge finds herself tearfully bonding with a sack of potatoes.19.4) I DON’T WANNA WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Marge breaks her promise to visit a disturbed bank robber in prison, and ends up getting kidnapped by him19.7) HUSBANDS AND KNIVES

The Comic Book Guy’s Android Dungeon faces competition with “Coolsville Comics ‘n Toys,” a new comic book store owned by a nicer, more personable store owner named Milo. Meanwhile, Marge creates a gym for the average woman, and a self-conscious Homer resorts to plastic surgery after being told that Marge’s success will lead to her divorcing Homer and getting a younger, handsomer trophy husband.19.8) FUNERAL FOR A FIEND

A night at a rib restaurant turns into yet another plot for Sideshow Bob to kill The Simpson family, but the whole scheme turns into a family affair when Bart kills his mortal enemy by throwing away his nitroglycerine (which Sideshow Bob needs for his heart) and the rest of the Terwiligers go after Bart for killing Bob.19.10) E PLURIBUS WIGGUM

Thanks to Homer’s latest blunder (blowing up every fast-food restaurant in the city), Springfield moves up election day and becomes the first city in the nation to hold primary elections. However, all the media attention and similar-sounding politicians wear on the townspeople’s nerves, so they elect Ralph Wiggum to be the 2008 Presidential candidate as a joke — until Ralph reveals that he wants to be President, so he can bring peace in these divided times.19.13) THE DEBARTED

Bart begins to suspect a rat when all of his pranks backfire — and might have something to do with his new friend, Donny. Meanwhile, Homer grows attached to his rental car, which he gets to drive for a week while his old car gets repaired.Dial_N_for_Nerder19.14) DIAL “N” FOR NERDER

Bart and Lisa’s prank on Martin Prince goes too far and they worry that they may be implicated in his death by the police (and Nelson, who becomes an amateur sleuth). Meanwhile, Marge calls upon the producer of a reality show that specializes in tracking down cheating couples when she begins to suspect that Homer may be cheating…on his diet.19.15) SMOKE ON THE DAUGHTER

Lisa is accepted into a ballet school run by jazz dancer Chazz Busby, and discovers that her dancing improves whenever she is around cigarette smoke. Meanwhile, Homer shows Bart his secret beef jerky project, which has been taken over by raccoonspapa_dont_leach19.16) PAPA DON’T LEECH

When Mayor Quimby launches a campaign to shake down anyone who has not paid taxes in years, Lurleen Lumpkin (the country singer who tried to seduce Homer from the season three episode “Colonel Homer”) hides out at the Simpson house, which does not sit well with Marge (who still cannot forgive her for almost stealing her husband).19.17) APOCALYPSE COW

Bart joins the 4-H Club and befriends a cow named Lou, but when Lou is set to be sent to slaughter, Bart gives Lou to a country girl named Mary — whom he now must marry after finding out that giving a cow to a country girl is considered a marriage proposal in hillbilly tradition.19.19) MONA LEAVES-A

Mona Simpson, Homer’s ’60s radical mother, returns, vowing that her days of protesting are over, but Homer will not accept. Things get worse when Mona dies and her last wishes are to have her ashes spread over the mountains, which turns out to be a plot in stopping a nuclear disaster.

Another series of everyone’s favourite family, another collection of cracking episodes, and with this being the 20th anniversary season there are some classic episodes that show just why the series had staying power.  

SEASON 20 HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE

20.1) SEX, PIES AND IDIOT SCRAPES

After serving a jail sentence for starting a brawl at an alcohol-free St. Patrick’s Day parade, Homer becomes a bounty hunter and tags Flanders along for the ride. Meanwhile, an Irish man gives Marge a job at his bakery, which Marge soon discovers specializes in sexually suggestive pastries.20.2) DOUBLE, DOUBLE BOY IN TROUBLE

Bart meets Simon Woosterfield, a boy who looks exactly like him and is a member of Springfield’s richest family. As a prank, the two decide to switch places, but the joke is on Bart when he discovers that Simon is being targeted for murder by his own siblings.20.6) HOMER AND LISA EXCHANGE CROSS WORDS

Lisa becomes obsessed with crossword puzzles and enters a contest, where Homer places bets against his daughter in order to earn money lost from his couples break-up business.20.7) MYPODS AND BROOMSTICKS

Bart makes friends with a Muslim boy named Bashir and his family, but Homer fears the family may be terrorists because of their religion. Meanwhile, Lisa is given a MyPod and becomes addicted to downloading songs on it20.9) LISA THE DRAMA QUEEN

Lisa meets a new girl named Juliet and helps her write stories about a fantasy world called Equalia, but spending too much time with Juliet (and the story) begins to warp Lisa’s sense of reality.20.10) TAKE MY LIFE PLEASE

After an old high school rival named Vance is honored at on the Springfield Wall of Fame, Homer becomes depressed when he discovers that Principal Dondelinger rigged the student council election so Vance would win. While at an Italian restaurant, a mysterious chef shows Homer how his life would have turned out had he actually won.20.11) HOW THE TEST WAS WON

Bart gets a perfect score on Springfield Elementary’s latest standardized test, leaving Lisa worried that Bart may be smarter than she when Bart is rewarded with a field trip — that turns out to be an elaborate trick into getting the low-testing students (and Principal Skinner) out of the way. Meanwhile, Homer forgets to mail off his insurance payment and must keep himself and the house accident-free until his coverage can be reinstated at 3:00pm.20.12) NO LOAN AGAIN, NATURALLY

The Simpsons get into a mortgage crisis of their own when Homer cannot afford to pay off the money he borrows from his home equity loan (so he can finane his extravagant Mardi Gras parties) and the Simpsons sell their home to Ned Flanders.20.13) GONE MAGGIE GONE

Homer leaves Maggie on the doorstep of a convent, setting off a Da Vinci Code-style chain of events involving Freemasons and the hunt for a rare jewel. Meanwhile, Marge goes blind after viewing an eclipse without an eclipse shoe box viewer and Homer tries to cover up Maggie’s disappearance.20.15) WEDDING FOR DISASTER

When Reverend Lovejoy reveals to Homer and Marge that they are not legally married, Homer and Marge decide to have another wedding to legitimize their union once and for all. But when Marge begins acting like a bridezilla and Homer mysteriously disappears, it is up to Bart and Lisa to save the day.20.16) EENY TEENY MAYA MOE

Moe once again searches for love and falls for a woman named Maya over the Internet. However, when Moe meets Maya face-to-face, he discovers it is more like face-to-knee, as Maya is only three feet tall. Meanwhile, Maggie is put in a playground full of hostile babies.

20.17) THE GOOD, THE SAD AND THE DRUGLY

Bart sets up Milhouse to take the fall for a prank the two of them pulled, and the duo’s friendship becomes strained when Bart falls for a charitable girl named Jenny. Meanwhile, Lisa becomes insane and depressed after reading Internet articles predicting that Springfield will be a barren wasteland in fifty years, and is given anti-depressants that turn her into a mindless zombie.20.19) WAVERLY HILLS, 9-0-2-1-D’OH

While desperately searching for a bathroom during her morning jog, Marge discovers how low-rent Springfield Elementary School really is and moves Bart and Lisa to Waverly Hills Elementary by having Homer rent an apartment there so the city inspector of Waverly Hills does not get suspicious. Meanwhile, Bart helps Lisa become popular by telling others that Lisa is friends with a teenage pop star named Alaska Nebraska.20.21) COMING TO HOMERICA

The citizens of Ogdenville swarm into Springfield in search of work after their local economy plummets, but when the Ogdenvillians’ Norwegian culture begins rubbing off on others, Mayor Quimby hires citizens to act as border patrol.21The argument will rage long after any Simpson season has aired  about when exactly America’s finest television animated export actually peaked. Some arguably, with genuine gusto. But even after 21 seasons the show still was having an impact and still being very successful.

SEASON 21 HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE

21.1) HOMER THE WHOPPER

Comic Book Guy creates a new superhero called Everyman who takes powers from other superheroes. Homer is cast as the lead in the film adaptation. To get Homer into shape, the movie studio hires a celebrity fitness trainer, Lyle McCarthy to help him. Homer gets into great shape but his life falls apart when his fitness trainer quits and the movie bombs at the box office.21.2) BART GETS A Z

Mrs. Krabappel is fired for drinking alcohol on the job (thanks to kids in her class spiking her coffee as revenge for confiscating their cell phones and BlackBerrys) and replaced with a hip, young teacher named Zachary Vaughn.21.3) THE GREAT WIFE HOPE

When the men and boys of Springfield become obsessed with Ultimate Fighting, Marge leads a protest against it when she catches Bart fighting in school — and ends up fighting the head of the Ultimate Fighting syndicate in order to have it banned.21.5) THE DEVIL WEARS NADA

Marge becomes a sex symbol after pin-up pictures of her appear on a calendar, which embarrasses Bart and stirs lust in every man in Springfield — including Ned Flanders. Meanwhile, Carl Carlson is chosen as the Springfield Nuclear Plant’s newest supervisor, and Homer gets hired as Carl’s assistant.21.6) PRANK AND GREENS

Bart tracks down an immature man named Andy Hamilton who was once hailed Springfield Elementary’s best prankster, and realizes the man who was once Springfield Elementary’s best prankster has no direction in his life. Meanwhile, Marge is chastised by the other mothers in her social circle for not serving healthy snacks.21.7) REDNECKS AND BROOMSTICKS

Lisa befriends three practicing Wiccans and must save them from being persecuted for their beliefs. Meanwhile, Homer starts hanging out with Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel after discovering that Cletus and his friends make moonshine.21.10) ONCE UPON A TIME IN SPRINGFIELD

The Krusty the Clown Show is once again retooled. This time, in a bid to get girls to watch the show, a princess character named Penelope is hired as Krusty’s latest sidekick, whom Krusty hates at first — until Princess Penelope reveals that she is Krusty’s biggest fan. Meanwhile, a corporate recruiter persuades Homer, Lenny, and Carl to work for a nuclear plant in Capital City, after Mr. Burns announces a moratorium on free doughnuts due to budget cuts.21.12) BOY MEETS CURL

The Simpsons head to the 2010 Winter Olympics where Marge and Homer compete as part of a mixed curling team and Lisa becomes addicted to collecting Olympic pins.21.15) STEALING FIRST BASE

When Mrs. Krabappel takes an extended absence her students join with the other fourth grade class where Bart falls for a girl named Nikki, who alternates between loving him and hating him. The two are seen kissing which leads to a public display of affection ban in the school. Meanwhile, First Lady Michelle Obama teaches Lisa that there is no shame in being an overachieving girl, and Nelson teaches a blind boy the art of being a schoolyard bully.21.17) AMERICAN HISTORY X-CELLENT

Smithers takes over the nuclear plant after Mr. Burns is put in jail for stealing valuable art — and starts acting like his boss when Homer and his friends begin taking advantage of his kindness.21.20) TO SURVEIL WITH LOVE

Radiation seeps out of Homer’s gym bag after a bomb squad blows it up and Springfield officials decide to suspend all civil liberties. Meanwhile, Lisa dyes her hair brown after being mocked for not conforming to the stereotype of the “dumb blonde.”21.21) MOE LETTER BLUES

Homer, Reverend Lovejoy and Apu Nahasapeemapetilon receive a letter from Moe that states he will steal one of their wives. The three get together and try to remember intimate moments between Moe and their wives.21.22) THE BOB NEXT DOOR

Bart becomes convinced that their new neighbor is Sideshow Bob in disguise, but Marge does not believe him and personally takes Bart to the Springfield Maximum Security Prison to prove it.21.23) JUDGE ME TENDER

Moe discovers his talent for judging in competitions and is invited to appear on the show American Idol. Meanwhile, Homer drives Marge crazy when he starts spending too much time at home, and takes up golf as a hobby.

22Very few shows have the staying Power as the Simpsons, evenfor the casual viewer there is still plenty to love.

SEASON 22 HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE

22.1) ELEMENTARY SCHOOL MUSICAL

Lisa attends a performing arts camp and is inspired to “embrace her creative side” by her counselors and fellow campers. When she returns, Lisa fails to readjust to her mundane life and attempts to recapture her “inner hipster”.22.3) MONEYBART

Lisa coaches Bart’s Little League baseball team to a record winning streak by putting her book smarts in statistics and probability into play. But when Bart questions Lisa’s coaching tactics and confronts her for taking the fun out of baseball, Lisa benches him from the championship game.22.5) LISA SIMPSON, THIS ISN’T YOUR LIFE

When Lisa finds out that Marge used to be as smart as Lisa before she slacked off, Lisa decides to buckle down (including sacrificing her love of arts and music) and not make the same mistake her mother did. Meanwhile, Bart publicly humiliates Nelson and becomes the school’s new bully.22.6) THE FULL MONTY

Mr. Burns is branded a social pariah after buying vaccinations created for a fictitious illness cooked up by the media and ends up as The Simpsons’ latest houseguest after a suicide attempt.22.9) DONNIE FATSO

An FBI agent and Homer (who’s trying to work off his criminal charge for bribery) infiltrate Fat Tony’s mob, and meet Fat Tony’s cousin, Fit Tony.22.10) MOMS I’D LIKE TO FORGET

After Bart discovers a boy with a similar scar on his arm, Marge reveals that she was a part of a group called “The Cool Moms,” who used to set up playdates with their children and the two decide to reunite with their old friends.22.11) FLAMING MOE

Moe Szyslak and Waylon Smithers turn Moe’s tavern into an ultra-trendy gay bar after Smithers is rejected from Mr. Burns’s will and Moe’s business is (once again) in a slump. Meanwhile, Principal Skinner tries to date the substitute music teacher and sets her daughter up with Bart22.13) THE BLUE AND THE GRAY

Moe hires Homer to be his wingman so he can score a date, but Homer ends up being the babe magnet. Meanwhile, Marge is shocked to find that her hairdresser has been dyeing her hair blue all these years (despite that the season five episode “Secrets to a Successful Marriage” revealed that Marge “…has been as gray as a mule since she was 17” and that she regularly dyes her hair herself rather than visit a salon) and decides to go gray for a new, mature look.22.14) ANGRY DAD: THE MOVIE

Bart and Homer revisit their web series “Angry Dad” (from season 13’s “I Am Furious Yellow”) and turn it into an animated short that quickly gains an Oscar nomination, but Bart does not want Homer to get all the glory, so he sends his father away when the Simpsons go (back) to Hollywood.22.16) A MIDSUMMERS NICE DREAM

1970s stoner comedians Tommy Chong and Cheech Marin decide to break up after each of them get a new comedy partner — Homer pairs up with Cheech to become “Cheech and Chunk” while Principal Skinner joins Chong to become “Teach and Chong.” Meanwhile, Marge stages an intervention for The Crazy Cat Lady after noticing that she’s hoarding animals — which turns Marge into a hoarder herself.22.17) LOVE IS A MANY STRANGLED THING

Homer is sent to parenting therapy after tickling Bart until he wets his pants during a football game, but when the therapist is shocked to hear that Homer regularly physically abuses Bart, he puts Homer through shock treatment by having Kareem Abdul-Jabbar strangle him to make Homer feel as weak and helpless as Bart.22.19) THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF FAT TONY

Fat Tony and Selma get married, prompting Marge to worry about her sister’s safety. Meanwhile, Lisa uses Bart to find truffles.22.22) THE NED-LIEST CATCH

Ned Flanders begins dating Mrs. Krabappel after saving her from a prank gone bad — until Flanders realizes that Mrs. Krabappel has left a trail of tears behind her from the men she dated before (including Aerosmith drummer, Joey Kramer).These seasons still have comedy gold in them and still shows why the Simpsons are still going strong.

REVIEW: HUGO

CAST

Asa Butterfield (Ender’s Game)
Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass)
Ben Kinglsey (Iron Man 3)
Sacha Baron Cohen (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Ray Winstone (Elfie Hopkins)
Emily Mortimer (Lars and The Real Girl)
Helen McCrory (The Woman In Black 2)
Jude Law (Spy)
Michael Stuhlbarg (Men In Black 3)
Christopher Lee (The Hobbit)
Frances de la Tour (The Lady In The Van)
Richard Griffiths (Harry Potter)
Michael Pitt (Murder By Numbers)

In 1931, 12-year-old Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) lives in Paris with his father (Jude Law), a widowed, but kind clockmaker who also works at a museum. One day his father finds a broken automaton, a mechanical man designed to write with a pen, at the museum, and he and Hugo try to repair it, his father documenting the automaton in a notebook. When his father is killed by a fire at the museum, Hugo is forced to live with his resentful, alcoholic uncle Claude (Ray Winstone), and made to learn how to maintain the clocks at the railway station of Gare Montparnasse. When Claude goes missing for several days, Hugo continues to maintain the clocks, fearing that he would be sent away as an orphan by the vindictive Station Inspector Gustave (Sacha Baron Cohen) if Claude’s absence is discovered. Hugo attempts to repair the automaton with stolen parts, believing it contains a message from his father, but the machine still requires a heart-shaped key that his father could not find.Hugo is caught when stealing from the toy store owner Georges (Ben Kingsley), who looks through his father’s notebook and threatens to destroy it. Hugo encounters Georges’ goddaughter Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz) who offers to help get the notebook back. Hugo learns Georges has forbidden Isabelle from going to the cinema, and introduces the medium to her as his father had done for him. As their friendship grows, he shows her the automaton, and is surprised when Isabelle inadvertently reveals she wears the key as a necklace given to her by Georges. When started, the machine draws out a scene that Hugo recognizes from his father’s description of the film A Trip to the Moon. Isabelle identifies the signature, that of a “Georges Méliès”, as her godfather. She sneaks Hugo into her home, where they find a hidden cache of more imaginative drawings of Méliès, but are caught by Georges, who banishes Hugo from his home.Hugo and Isabelle go to the Film Academy Library and find a book about the history of cinema that praises Méliès’ contributions. They meet the book’s author, René Tabard (Michael Stuhlbarg), a film expert who is surprised to hear that Méliès may still be alive, as he had disappeared after World War I along with nearly all copies of his films. Excited at the chance to meet him, René agrees to meet Isabelle and Hugo at Georges’ home to show his copy of A Trip to the Moon, hoping it will invigorate Georges. On the scheduled night, Georges’ wife Jeanne (Helen McCrory) tries to turn them away, but René compliments Jeanne as Jeanne d’Alcy, an actress in many of Méliès’ films, and she allows them to continue. As the film plays, Georges wakes up at the sight, and Jeanne finally convinces him to cherish his accomplishments rather than regret his lost dream. Georges recounts that as a stage magician, he had been fascinated by motion pictures and used the medium to create imaginative works through his Star Film Company, but was forced into bankruptcy following the War, closing his studio and selling his films to be turned into raw materials. He laments that even an automaton he made that he donated to a museum was lost. Hugo recognizes this is the same automaton he has, and races to the station to retrieve it. He is caught by Gustave, who has learned that Claude’s body was found some time ago, and threatens to take Hugo to the orphanage. Georges arrives and tells Gustave that he will now see to Hugo, adopting him as his son.Some time later, Georges is named a professor at the Film Academy, and is paid tribute through a showcase of his films recovered by René. Hugo joins in with his new family as they celebrate, while Isabelle starts to write down Hugo’s story.Martin Scorcese’s Hugo is one of the best cinematic experience, I’ve had in years.  The visual effects, cinematography, art direction, just technically superb. Finally a smart, awe-aspiring family film, which are really rare nowadays. A definite surprise coming from legendary director, Martin Scorcese, who’s known for movies with a lot of swears, violence, drugs and other adult-themed subjects.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET

CAST

Johnny Depp (Into The Woods)
Helena Bonham Carter (Fight Club)
Alan Rickman (Harry Potter)
Timothy Spall (Rock Star)
Sascha Baron Cohen (Grimsby)
Jamie Campbell Bower (The Prisoner)
Lucy Michelle Kelly (Goddess)
Jayne Wisener (Boogeyman 3)
Anthony Head (Buffy)

In 1846, Benjamin Barker, a barber, arrives in London, accompanied by sailor Anthony Hope. Fifteen years earlier, he was falsely convicted and sentenced to penal transportation by the corrupt Judge Turpin, who lusted after Barker’s wife Lucy. Barker adopts the alias “Sweeney Todd” and returns to his old Fleet Street shop, situated above Mrs. Nellie Lovett’s meat pie shop. He learns that Turpin raped Lucy, who then poisoned herself with arsenic. The couple’s daughter, Johanna, is now Turpin’s ward, and is the object of Turpin’s lust. Todd vows revenge, and re-opens his barber shop after Mrs. Lovett returns his straight razors to him. Anthony becomes enamored with Johanna, but is caught by Turpin and driven away by his corrupt associate, Beadle Bamford.

Todd denounces faux-Italian barber Adolfo Pirelli’s hair tonic as a fraudulent mix and humiliates him in a public shaving contest. A few days later, Pirelli arrives at Todd’s shop, with his boy assistant Tobias Ragg. Mrs. Lovett keeps Toby occupied while Pirelli identifies himself as Todd’s former assistant, Davy Collins, and threatens to reveal Todd’s secret unless Todd gives him half his earnings. Todd kills Collins to protect his secret, and hides his body in a trunk.

After receiving advice from Bamford, Turpin, intending marriage to Johanna, visits Todd’s shop for grooming. Todd shaves Turpin, preparing to slit his throat; they are interrupted by Anthony, who reveals his plan to elope with Johanna before noticing Turpin. Turpin leaves enraged and Todd vents his rage by killing customers while waiting for another chance to kill Turpin, and Mrs. Lovett bakes the victims into pies. Todd rigs his barber’s chair with a pedal-operated mechanism that deposits his victims through a trap door into Mrs. Lovett’s basement bake-house. Anthony searches for Johanna, whom Turpin has sent to an insane asylum upon discovering her plans to elope with Anthony.

The barbering and pie-making businesses prosper, and Mrs. Lovett takes Toby as her assistant. Mrs. Lovett tells an uninterested Todd of her plans to marry him and move to the seaside. Anthony discovers Johanna’s whereabouts and poses as a wig-maker’s apprentice to rescue her. Todd has Toby deliver a letter to Turpin, telling him where Johanna will be brought when Anthony frees her. Toby has become wary of Todd and tells Mrs. Lovett of his suspicion.

Bamford arrives at the pie shop, informing Mrs. Lovett that neighbors have been complaining of the stink from her chimney. He is distracted by Todd’s offer of a free grooming and is murdered by Todd. Mrs. Lovett informs Todd of Toby’s suspicions, and the pair search for Toby, whom Mrs. Lovett has locked in the bake-house. He has hidden himself in the sewers after seeing Bamford’s body drop into the room from the trap door above, as well as finding a human toe in a pie. Anthony brings Johanna, disguised as a sailor, to the shop, and has her wait there while he leaves to find a coach.
A beggar woman enters the shop in search of Bamford. She recognizes Todd, but upon hearing Turpin’s voice, Todd kills her and sends her through the trap door. As Turpin enters, Todd explains that Johanna had repented and offers a free shave; when Turpin finally recognizes Todd as Benjamin Barker, Todd stabs him several times before cutting his throat. Upon seeing Johanna, Todd prepares to slit her throat as well, not recognizing her as his daughter. Hearing Mrs. Lovett scream in horror as a dying Turpin grabs her dress, Todd instead spares Johanna’s life.
Todd discovers that the beggar woman was his wife Lucy, whom he believed to be dead, and that Mrs. Lovett misled him about her death. Todd pretends to forgive her and dances with her before hurling her into the bake-house oven, then cradles his wife’s dead body in his arms. Toby climbs from the sewers and Todd allows Toby to slit his throat with his own razor. He leaves the basement as Todd bleeds to death all over his dead wife.Depp and Bonham Carter are both excellent and it’s down to their performances that I never quite lost sympathy with them in their descent into madness, blood lust and cannibalism.

REVIEW: THE SPY (2019)

Sacha Baron Cohen in The Spy (2019)

Starring

Sacha Baron Cohen (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Noah Emmerich (Jane Got a Gun)
Alexander Siddig (Game of Thrones)
Hadar Ratzon-Rotem (Homeland)

imagesIn Netflix’s new six-part miniseries The Spy, Sacha Baron Cohen plays Eli Cohen, an Israeli intelligence agent who spent years in the Sixties undercover in Syria under the name Kamel Amin Thaabet. It’s a big dramatic showcase for an actor best known for broad sketch-comedy characters like Borat and Ali G. While comic actors are generally better equipped to play drama than serious performers are to be funny, not everyone has the skill to cross that stylistic divide. But Baron Cohen couldn’t have found a role more well-suited to his gifts and career to date. The Spy is a thriller played entirely straight, but it also feels like Baron Cohen’s persona with vastly higher stakes. His specialty, after all, is to adopt a character like Borat, or like Who Is America? conspiracy theorist Billy Wayne Ruddick Jr., and portray him out in the wild, opposite strangers who have to believe the character is real for the joke to work. If someone sees through one of Baron Cohen’s disguises, everybody just leaves and the sketch gets left on the cutting room floor, whereas Eli Cohen had to stay in character for months on end, with his life at stake if he slipped. But the basic principle is the same.MV5BNmJkYmNlMDEtMGQ4ZC00MjVmLWI3OTgtMzZjZTgwNzAxZTUzXkEyXkFqcGdeQTNwaW5nZXN0._V1_UX477_CR0,0,477,268_AL_Created by Gideon Raff (whose Israeli drama Prisoners of War was remade here as Homeland), The Spy doesn’t dwell on the parallels between the careers of the two (unrelated) Cohens. Still, it’s hard not to see them, particularly once Eli goes from nervous rookie operative to a smooth operator who charms his way into the highest echelons of Syria’s government and society. And while there are times in Baron Cohen’s sketch career where it seems unlikely that no one is questioning the reality or a Borat or Bruno, he seems utterly plausible as Kamel, a wealthy importer/exporter who throws the best parties in Damascus.the-spy-feat-960x430It is, by design, a decidedly unflashy performance. Eli’s goal was to make powerful friends, but to do it by blending in rather than standing out. As his anxious handler Dan Peleg (Noah Emmerich) puts it, “Noticeable spies end up dead.” Baron Cohen is convincingly understated as both Eli and Kamel in a way that’s suited to the material, even if there are only brief flashes of a wider range. Most of those flashes come fairly late in the story, as Eli begins to wear down from years of being largely absent from the lives of wife Nadia (Hadar Ratzon Rotem) and the children he was able to conceive but not raise during his brief home visits, and from the constant danger that Dan keeps placing him in.The-Spy-Netflix-810x456Until those final chapters, The Spy is an effectively meat-and-potatoes espionage story, where the details of Eli’s mission are remarkable and taut enough to require little embellishment. But neither is there much in the way of the moral complexity you often find in this genre (including on Emmerich’s last TV spy role on The Americans). Eli never seems particularly conflicted about betraying all of the friends he makes as Kamel. There are occasional references to the idea that Eli, born in Egypt and darker of skin than many Israelis, is treated as a second-class citizen by the nation he is risking his life every day to protect — “You know what they see when they look at me,” he tells Nadia early on. “They see an Arab. That’s it. Jewish, yes, but just an Arab.” But Raff and his collaborators don’t dig too deep in that corner of their hero’s psyche. He is presented as a noble patriot who did his duty and missed his wife terribly, period.the-spy-2019-sacha-baron-cohen-netflix.The story is still enough to satisfyingly fill six hours, and Raff deploys some interesting stylistic touches along the way, like a muted color palette that occasionally creates the illusion we’re watching a black-and-white film from the period, or the way that Eli’s Morse code dispatches to Israel leap onto the screen so that we’re not just watching him tap on a telegraph machine for minutes on end. And Baron Cohen is ably backed by a supporting cast full of actors — including Emmerich, Waleed Zuaiter (as Syrian military officer and politician Amin Al-Hafez), and Alexander Siddig (as a Syrian official who is rightly suspicious of Kamel from the start) — whose presence in a show like this is less surprising than his own.Screenshot-2019-09-03-at-17.49.07-2The Spy won’t necessarily convince you that Baron Cohen will, like Robin Williams or Jim Carrey before him, prove to be just as potent at playing serious as he was going for belly laughs. But it’s a promising start if he wants to start disappearing into characters whose goals are more dangerous than a prank.

 

REVIEW: ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES

 

Starring

Will Ferrell (The Lego Movie)
Steve Carell (Little Miss Sunshine)
Paul Rudd (Ant-Man)
David Koechner (Get Smart)
Christina Applegate (Dead To Me)
Dylan Baker (The Good Wife)
Meagan Good (Minority Report TV)
James Marsden (Superman Returns)
Fred Willard (Fifty Shades of Black)
Kristen Wiig (Ghostbusters)
Josh Lawson (Free Birds)
Chris Parnell (Goosebumps 2)
Greg Kinnear (As Good As It Gets)
Wilbur Fitzgerald (Robocpop 3)
Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones)
Sacha Baron Cohen (Grimsby)
Marion Cotillard (The Dark Knight Rises)
Will Smith (Men In Black)
Kirsten Dunst (Spider-Man)
Jim Carrey (Kidding)
Tina Fey (30 Rock)
Liam Neeson (Taken)
Amy Poehler (Sisters)
John C. Reilly (Cyrus)
Vince Vaughn (The Internship)
Kanye West (The Cleveland Show)
June Diane Raphael (Year One)

Will Ferrell, David Koechner, and Paul Rudd in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013)In 1980, Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) are married and are both co-anchors for a prestigious news network in New York City. One day, Mack Tannen (Harrison Ford), the most famous nightly news anchor in New York, reveals that he is retiring. He intends to promote Corningstone, making her the first female nightly news anchor in the history of television, and to fire Burgundy due to his continuously sloppy performance on air. Burgundy grows jealous of Corningstone’s success and storms out of the house, leaving Corningstone and his six-year-old son Walter (Judah Nelson).Christina Applegate and Will Ferrell in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013)Six months later, Burgundy is back in San Diego, but barely able to hold a job due to his depression. After being fired from SeaWorld and botching a suicide attempt, Burgundy accepts a job offered to him by Freddie Shapp (Dylan Baker) with GNN (Global News Network), the world’s first 24-hour cable news network, for GNN’s official launch. He reassembles his news team, finding Champ Kind (David Koechner), who owns a fried chicken store (that sells bats secretly to cut down on costs), Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), now a famous cat photographer, and Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), who is presumed dead but appears at his own funeral. They are assigned the unpopular late-night timeslot while obnoxious rival anchorman Jack Lime (James Marsden) is put in a primetime slot. Meanwhile, Burgundy finds that Corningstone has started dating another man, a psychologist named Gary (Greg Kinnear).Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, David Koechner, and Paul Rudd in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013)As GNN launches, Burgundy decides to broadcast what the people want to hear, rather than what they need to hear. He and his team devise a sensationalist and attention-grabbing newscast. Their new approach proves to be a hit, beating Lime in ratings by a massive margin, and the other news networks scramble to emulate them. Burgundy and his team are promoted to primetime, where they enjoy fame and fortune. Burgundy’s success excites GNN’s manager, Linda Jackson (Meagan Good), and they begin a romantic relationship. Tamland meets a similarly eccentric GNN office worker named Chani (Kristen Wiig) and immediately falls in love. Burgundy lets his newfound fame get to his head and neglects his parental obligations to Walter, angering Corningstone. He also alienates Fantana, Kind, and Tamland, claiming he is tired of carrying them.Christina Applegate and Will Ferrell in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013)During a party celebrating GNN’s success, Lime causes Burgundy to slip and suffer a head injury, resulting in him becoming temporarily blind. Unable to read the news, Burgundy isolates himself in a lighthouse, unable to adjust to his loss of sight. Corningstone arrives with Walter for a visit and Burgundy bonds with his family, gradually overcoming his disability. Burgundy and his son rehabilitate a small shark, naming him Doby before setting him free. Burgundy finds out that Corningstone was hiding messages from his eye doctor about an experimental procedure. He leaves angrily, gets his sight restored, and returns to GNN.Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, David Koechner, and Paul Rudd in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013)Back in New York, returning to work, Burgundy is once again approached by Corningstone, who pleads with him to attend Walter’s piano recital. At the same time, an exclusive news story comes in, requiring Burgundy to cover it. On live TV, Burgundy instead goes on a rant criticizing news networks, including GNN, for focusing on ratings rather than the news. He leaves for Walter’s recital but is intercepted by an angered Lime and his team and other angered teams from news networks, including Tannen, all of whom want to kill him due to his fame. Burgundy’s friends arrive to defend him and a massive free-for-all battle ensues. Burgundy’s old arch-rival Wes Mantooth (Vince Vaughn) threatens to blow up Lime’s news crew and is accidentally blown up by Tamland instead before Tannen, Lime, and all the other teams retreat from the fight in defeat. Burgundy manages to reach Walter’s recital in time. Burgundy and his friends later attend Tamland’s and Chani’s wedding on the beach.Will Ferrell and Steve Carell in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013)This movie is both funny and a great piece of satire. There are plenty of laughs and very silly situations but there is also a message about how news reporting has changed in the last 30 years thanks to powerful men who own the media. The Australian owner of GNN is obviously Rupert Murdoch .